An emotional interview with David Coats and Mike Howell on why they organized ChinLock for Chuck
The City Insight sat down with former wrestlers David Coats and Mike Howell to get more insight about the event “ChinLock for Chuck” which will be held in Durham, North Carolina on January 15, 2013. Chuck Coats, also known as Madd Maxx at one point in his wrestling career has been battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a cancer originating from white blood cells called lymphocytes.
CI: David, tell me a little bit about ChinLock for Chuck?
David Coats: ChinLock for Chuck is a premier wrestling event that both Mike and I have coordinated, that will take place on January 15th in Durham, North Carolina at Northern Durham High School. Mike had the idea to actually do the show and came to me and we tossed ideas back and forth. Earlier in 2012 my brother was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for a second time. The first time was in 2006 and he went through the radiation and chemotherapy then. Early in 2007, doctors told him the cancer appeared to be in remission and he was fine. Then in 2012 it came back. When he first received news of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2006, there were some words amongst some distance friends of ours that a benefit show might take place and for whatever reasons it did not. But when we found out this past year that he was going to go through it again, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make sure that what we thought might happen in 2006 actually did. This go round Chuck went through the chemo and bone marrow transplant about the same time that Robin Roberts did. As of December 19th we received news during his last scan that the doctors detected no signs of cancer and that he was in remission, so nevertheless we continued plugging forward with this show.
Chuck has a full time job, but he has missed so much work based on his treatment and rehab and things like that that. We know out of pocket medical expenses are piling up. We know that he has a son, two step children, and he and his wife are also taking care of three foster children that they took in two years ago. So we know the expense as a family on the limited income he was receiving was putting a burden on them. So what better way to say we are here to help, than to organize this event? So Mike and I started talking to another good friend of ours, Shane Helms, who is the Hurricane. Shane will be on the show. Mike coordinated with Shane, then Shane contacted friends that Chuck use to wrestle with as well as the ones he wrestles with today like Matt and Jeff Hardy, Gunner, CW Anderson, Lodi, James Storm and the guys who are under contact with TNA wresting, and others. They all said they wanted to do it because they all knew Chuck. Chuck was in the wrestling business for about 20 years and it’s just amazing to see the overwhelming amount of support we received. It is nice to see the good side of pro wrestling. A lot of people hear negative stories and this really sheds a positive light on how genuine people can be in this business. We are looking forward to a fantastic night.
CI: So tell me a little bit about Chuck as a wrestler.
David Coats: Chuck has had the pleasure and opportunity to wrestle some of the biggest names in the business such as Ricky Steamboat at the Dorton Arena, Andre the Giant, Sting, Brian Coleman, Steve Austin, the list goes on and on. I could sit here and name 30 more people. He has learned from them and they have learned from him as well. We have been going to different wrestling shows promoting the event and people like Ricky Morton, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, and others in the independent circuit come over and ask “how is Chuck doing”? It makes me feel blessed to be his brother and to see how much people care about him. It is just amazing!
CI: Mike Tell me how you got involved with ChinLock for Chuck.
Mike Howell: Chuck, David and I have all been best friends since we were in high school, which is over 25 years. David and I have not actively wrestled in about 10 years; however, Chuck did it longer, until he got sick in 2006. We kept in touch over the years. I was living in Florida and did not hear about it until after the fact. I felt bad because he is one of my best friends. When I found out last year that he was getting ready to go through it again the idea of a benefit show came up again. I just got it in my head to do this and I called David. We got several other people such as Shane Helms, who is one of our good friends from 20 years back and he said he would do it. Shane volunteered his time to do this for Chuck. Shane’s contribution was that he got us all this talent.
CI: Going back to Chuck and it’s great to know that he is in remission. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a very serious illness and with you being his brother, it must have been difficult. What would you say as his brother was personally the worst thing to watch him go through as he battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
David Coats: Here is a massive, large, physical athletic person that is frail and weak now. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma completely wipes you out. He lost his hair. (David takes a deep pause) This time around, when he found out about it, it was because he had a pain in his side, which turned out to be another mass near hispancreas. He was just deflated he said “oh no, here we go again.”
(David continues as tears slowly fill his eyes) The bone marrow transplant was the toughest part for me. They harvested his stem cells and ran it through his body. Then they gradually put them back into his body. When they did that, his immune system was wiped.
I remember being in the Ward at Duke where you go through these set of doors, and when you enter one door, you have to let the doors behind you shut before you go through the next door. Then you go through another door and it shuts, and you go to the next set of doors, just to get to a counter with a sink where you wash your hands. It was a completely sterile environment and we all had to wear masks. Once that was over, he was taken to another room in a different location to stay for three weeks. During this time he could not have many visitors, and it’s tough when you are a dad and a husband.
We started talking about the show and I created a video of his stay while he was in the hospital. Throughout the course of putting this video together, as part of the process you had to rewind the video a lot. So I was watching and rewinding, and as I got further along, the more I had to rewind and watch. Everything was fine at the beginning of the video. Right about the middle, there is a transition and the music in the song talks about how life changes all of a sudden….. (David’s voice is becoming filled with emotion at this point as his eyes continue to fill with tears and he goes on to say). And it’s him in the hospital with little hair and he just looked like a totally different person. That is when it became tough not only for me but for everyone who watched it.
This is real. There are about 5,000 men and 4,000 women each year that will be diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. That is a lot. It’s not just Chuck, it’s other people’s family members, who have gone through this thing. It opened my eyes to the fact that there is one life that we all have, and its best not to take it for granted and to just appreciate each and every day.
To get tickets for ChinLock for Chuck, https://chinlockforchuck.eventwax.com/chinlock-for-chuck/register Stay tuned for a second story that will feature more insight about ChinLock for Chuck, and more thoughts from both David and Mike. David and Mike used to be a tag team. For the last month and half they have been going to the gym, and recently got bitten by the wrestling bug as they promote the benefit event “ChinLock for Chuck”. Will they return to the ring?